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12 February 2013
Sandra Burmeister, CEO, Amrop Landelahni
Photo? (Perhaps wait until we have a wider range of contributors?)
Gender pay gap widens
The gender pay gap has widened over the past few years, suggesting that fundamental
issues need to be addressed long before women enter the workforce.
Not only are women paid less than their male counterparts in the same job but, throughout
the world, women tend to be concentrated in support functions such as human resources or
marketing rather than in core production roles such as engineering. This is frequently due to
outdated stereotypes, compounded by ‘soft’ educational qualifications.
Read more (link to full article)
Progress in the United States, United Kingdom and South Africa in closing the pay gap has
stalled or slipped backwards over the past few years. A recent International Trade Union
Confederation report reveals that women’s wages have become “frozen in time almost
everywhere”. The research shows that, worldwide, women’s earnings are 18% on average
less than men’s earnings across almost all occupations.
If this slow pace of change continues, it will take 45 years for women’s pay to reach parity
with that of men. For the gender pay gap to narrow, salaries must rise faster for women than
those for men. Unfortunately, the reality is that salaries tend to rise at the same rate, which
has the effect of increasing the gap. However, it’s not a zero sum game. Gains for women
should not mean losses for men.
There has been some progress. The 2012 World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Gender
Gap Report shows that the sub-Saharan Africa region has closed 66% of its gender gap, as
measured by economic participation and opportunity, education, health and political
On economic participation in particular, Sub-Saharan Africa performed well – just behind
Europe, Central Asia and North America. On the West Coast, Ghana showed a gender gap
of 25% in economic participation, with Nigeria at 37%. Across the continent, Kenya and
Uganda came in at 28%, with Zambia at 39%. SA registered a gap of 34%, well behind the
US at 19% and the UK at 27%.
However, when it comes to education, Africa is the region with the largest gender gap,
particularly concerning literacy and enrolment for tertiary education. This does not bode well
for the future.
Of the 132 countries surveyed in the WEF research, the four Nordic countries, Iceland,
Finland, Norway and Sweden, hold the top overall rankings and have closed more than 80%
of the overall gender gap.
These countries several decades ago reached close to 100% literacy for both sexes. Gender
parity has been achieved at primary- and secondary-school level and at tertiary level the
gender gap has been reversed.
Education, work opportunities and the gender pay gap are inherently linked. A lack of formal
education limits opportunities for women in the workplace, restricting them to lower paid
There are positive signs in Africa and elsewhere that the expectations and mores of
societies that currently place a higher value on the education of male children are changing.
Formal education for women is an essential stepping-stone to gender equality in the
When it comes to women in senior management, SA at 28% compares well with the global
average of 21%, according to a recent Grant Thornton survey. However, even when women
do advance through the executive pipeline they tend to be paid less than men for performing
the same work. Effectively, this means that women work for free for several months a year,
while men work and are paid for a full year.
We need to draw on the skills of both men and women to meet the challenges of today’s
complex, volatile and uncertain business environment. Research shows that women bring
different approaches to business, which positively affect organisational performance and
financial results.
Companies that have succeeded in reducing the gender gap in the workplace display an
integrated approach across a range of initiatives. They demonstrate a high level of
management commitment, measure progress continuously, and implement programmes to
change attitudes and counter inadvertent prejudice.